1915-1916: Gallipoli Campaign


The purpose of the campaign was to relieve Turkish pressure on Russian forces in the Caucasus, and, by gaining control of Istanbul provide a direct link with Russia via the Black Sea. Excessive caution and timorous leadership by the British commander resulted in several lost initiatives. In early August, after three months of stalemate and stagnation on the beaches, a new major offensive was begun. Once again, however, the caution and indifferent leadership of the British command offset the effect of heavy reinforcements. After a few more months of stalemate Sir Charles Monro was sent to evaluate the situation. He recommended evacuation, and the allied forces were withdrawn in December and January.

British casualties were 205,000 out of 410,000; the French sustained 47,000 out of 79,000; Turkish, 250,000 to 300,000 out of 500,000. With the possible exception of the Crimean War, the Gallipoli expedition was the most poorly mounted and ineptly controlled operation in modern British military history.

Despite its overall failure the Gallipoli campaign weakened the Turks enough to enable the British seizure of Palestine in 1917. The action also distracted the Germans from a plan they had in 1915 to begin another offensive in France.